Alison Stroud has taken the idea of teaching civics to a new level.
It started last year, when the East Sandy Elementary teacher decided to throw her hat in the ring for a seat on Sandy’s City Council. As she campaigned, unknowingly knocking on doors where her students lived and passing out flyers to parents — even dressing up as a ballot for Halloween — Stroud’s third-grade students grew more and more invested in the outcome of November’s election, declaring that they would vote for her as they cheered for her in the hallways.
It turns out, even though none of the students were actually old enough to vote, their wishes for Stroud to win worked. After a close race and a two-week-long wait to count every ballot after the polls closed on Nov. 5, Stroud became one of the three newest members of the Sandy City Council with a margin of 84 more votes than her competitor. She will take her Oath of Office at City Hall at noon Monday, Jan. 6, and has invited her champions and greatest source of inspiration — her family and current and former students — to the ceremony.
After being sworn in, Stroud will attend her first official city council meeting on Jan. 7.
It's a new experience for the Sandy native, though she’s not new to public service. Before she started teaching 13 years ago, she served in the U.S. Army as a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Operations Specialist.
Over the years, Stroud had sometimes thought about what decisions she would make if she were a city council member, but she never considered that possibility as a reality until Brooke Christensen, the mother of one of Stroud’s students and a current member of the Sandy City Council, encouraged her to go for it.
Once her campaign was over and Election Day had come and gone, Stroud thought she’d know if she’d been successful or not, putting an end to months of anticipation. But she was surprised to learn that the race was so close she needed to wait until the results were officially verified by the lieutenant governor and accepted by the city on Nov. 19.
“It was a nail-biter,” Stroud said. “It was hard, just being on pins and needles for two weeks, thinking, ‘It’s out of my hands now.’ Once it was done, it was like, ‘OK, now I can celebrate.’”
As nervous as Stroud was waiting for the results of the election, she didn’t let that stop her from continuing her daily routine with her third-grade students at East Sandy, including her favorite part: a morning meeting where she gathers all of her students together for the first 20 minutes of the day.
During that meeting, Stroud listens as her students share what they are looking forward to for the day, or what they did the night before. She loves to hear what is going on in their lives as they ask questions and share their personal feelings. These are the things that Stroud, who will continue to teach, has taken to heart as the foundation of the guiding principles she will have as a city council member.
When she has a big decision to make, she says she will think of them.
“I see myself as a representative for our youngest residents and their families, as I’ve seen some of the issues that they face now and what they are passionate about,” Stroud says. “They are passionate about recycling and sustainability, they are frustrated with air quality, and they want more opportunities for their voices to be heard. Seeing that as a teacher, I’m hoping to be able to bring that into a bigger city perspective to see what we can do as a city for our students and their families to keep Sandy moving forward and keep them wanting to live here … when they grow up, to think of Sandy as their home town.”